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Debt and Career Advice WWYD?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
It's been a year since I finished getting my BFA in Film Studies and I need some advice on my next moves. I went to school down in San Diego and took around 3 months off after I finished until the lease on my then apartment was up. I had a lead on job in LA and considering that's where most of the business opportunities lay. I was dating a girl who was also a recent grad in a similar field and suggested we both move to LA to save on rent and expenses. She wasn't ready and we split right around September when I finally made my move. The job I thought I had lined up fell through and after about 3 months of pulling my hair out I got a call for a job as a PA on a pilot through my original contact. Everything was going great until the pilot didn't get picked up and I was again out of a job after only a month. I made some great contacts during the experience, one of which would come in handy later. Unfortunately I was back to having no income and tons of bills. A buddy of mine got me a job as an executive assistant this January which turned out to be a horrible experience. I got a call out of the blue for an offer from someone I met during that time on the pilot to work on an established show for about a year. Being an assistant was so bad that I decided to leave for this upcoming gig which doesn't start until mid-July. In between I've been going crazy and come to realize that I'm living way above my means. My rent is around $1200 along with cable and utilities. I cook almost all my meals at home to save cash and can barely afford the gym, forget entertainment. Fortunately my family is kind enough to support me the best they can, but they too are horrible when it comes to personal finances. I never had someone mentor or educate me about finance, taxes, bookkeeping, etc. and every suggestion my parents make about finances I'm leery of. As of now I owe about $20k all in for school, plus about $2000 in personal debt, some of which is in collections. I frantically search for work almost everyday, on top of doing some side gigs (simple video editing, graphic and web design) to make ends meet. But overall I'm a really disenchanted with how everything is going and some days I feel like offing almost everything I own and getting a job as a delivery boy just to get back to 'zero'. I'm stuck with this lease until September and even if everything pans out with this upcoming job, I still should probably downsize my expenses. There's no way with entry level jobs that I will be able to pay off my debt, live comfortably and also save for the future. To make matters worse I'm already looking for jobs in case this one falls through that aren't even in a related field. I know this sounds like a big "wahhh" but I really do appreciate any help or advice you guys can throw my way. Like how those of you who were in a financial/career rut got a handle on things well enough to swim out.
post #2 of 12
Your rent/living expenses are brutal. $1200? I know its LA but that's what's killing you
post #3 of 12
Try to find a roommate.
post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pilot View Post
Try to find a roommate.
This is what I've been thinking will have to be a reality. Unfortunately even renting a room is expensive unless you don't mind Inglewood, Compton, etc. If I got a roommate I would also have to pay for storage which would still probably amount to paying ~$800-1000.
post #5 of 12
Are your student loans federal? You can defer payments if you're unemployed / underemployed and the interest will be subsidized.
post #6 of 12
Inglewood is not that bad.

You could always try the east side. I was in your situation for a bit and found a rommate situation in Monterey Park for $500 a month.
post #7 of 12
1) Find a roomate or, even better, roomates. Will it suck? Probably. But that's the best way to cut your expenses quickly.

2) Keep looking for work in your field but find a way to cut your expenses. Work nights and weekends of necessary. Don't just give up on finding work in your field in order to pay off your loans super quickly. This is how 31 year old retail associates are created.

3) Pay off any credit card debt immediately.
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rexthedestroyer View Post
Inglewood is not that bad.

You could always try the east side. I was in your situation for a bit and found a rommate situation in Monterey Park for $500 a month.

I'm definitely into looking at less expensive areas of LA. As long as wherever I live isn't too far from where I work, I'm good. Los Angeles traffic is seriously not over hyped. I grew up about an hour and a half north and heard stories, but until you experience the traffic, it's for real.

I'm in forbearance with my loan until the middle of next month. I need to double check if I can extend it because I'm not positive that I can.

The amount I currently have on my VISA is from a long time ago that I haven't paid off. I've always made the minimum payment and never been late. Is it really important to have the balance on my card at zero most of the time? I know this sounds like a stupid question, but again, I've never had any instruction on finances or guidance with credit. Everything I know is from what I research or find out through experience.
post #9 of 12
Credit card debt usually has the highest interest rate of any type of debt you can be in. Your student loans are probably 5-7% where as your credit card can easily be around 20%
post #10 of 12
Some people say you should pay off your student loans little by little if you can invest your savings at a higher rate of return (which is often the case). I'm more of a fan of letting new student pay off their student loans (if they're in the range of 20-30K) before they do anything else because it does a few things:

- Teaches you the value of that money. 20K is easy to spend but tough to pay back.
- If gives you a tangible financial goal and, when you actually pay that money off, it becomes a really strong psychological tool for future financial rigour. I really believe this strongly and will advise my children (should they have student loan debt) to pay it off completely in as little time as possible, even if it has a low interest rate.
post #11 of 12
Agreed. Try paying your student loans in amounts you can manage instead of savings, and this is after you clear your CC debt first. If your job situation improves, realize you should be able to pay more than minimum on the principle of the loan. Besides the lesson-setting and goal-setting values, paying on the student loans is a sure thing. Loan interest rates are getting higher and higher even for govt. loans for students and very likely hovering close to 7%, than the 3-5% that was attainable in the past. Your savings, unless its a CD, (but where can I find a 8-10% CD??) or something similar, very often does not guarantee a return on investment rate. The possibility is there, but how do you know? This is unlike the debt which will be guaranteed to accrue, and of course for student loans, non-dischargeable. You're lucky it's just 20K, many in your situation for entry-level jobs can be faced with 40K, 60K, or more. I don't see how this will change until things pop. Ideally, you'll have some sort of emergency fund to help you through your situation if things go to the shitter. If this can only be managed at a grand and move in with rents, so be it.
post #12 of 12
First thing, get your student loans in unemployment deferment before they go back into repayment next next month. In deferment you subsidized interest is paid for by the Dept. of Education, in forbearance you're capitalizing ALL interest, not just unsubsidized. Forbearance is the quickest way to turn that $20k into $30k before you know it. With the loans in deferment start paying off your personal debt, then move to paying off the student debt once your CC's and shit are zero balance and you find full time work. Never let student loan debt hang over your head; I work in the industry and it's shocking how few people take student loans seriously considering how incredibly damaging it can be if you don't.
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